CLEARFIELD – The murder trial got under way Tuesday for the Morrisdale woman accused of shooting her bed-ridden husband, Ronald L. Williams Jr., in March of 2019.
Kimberly S. Williams, now 48, is charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
She’s also charged with felony aggravated assault (two counts) as well as misdemeanor simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
The trial is being prosecuted by District Attorney Ryan Sayers and First Assistant DA Leanne Nedza; Kimberly Williams is being represented by defense attorney Steven Paul Trialonas.
In his opening statements, Sayers argued Kimberly Williams’ murderous plot was motivated by a selfish desire to solely inherit the couple’s Special Needs Trust Fund valued at over $800,000 so she could go be with her lover in North Carolina.
Trialonas countered, saying his client’s husband, Ronald Williams, had a long history of mental health issues and an obsession with thoughts of death.
“That day, Ronald Williams died of a single gunshot wound to the head, and yes, Kimberly Williams was in the room, but Ronald Williams pulled the trigger. That’s what happened.”
According to testimony from Corporal Robert Straw, Clearfield-based state troopers responded to the couple’s Elm Drive residence for a reported suicide at 3:21 p.m. March 14, 2019.
On-scene Straw was directed by Kimberly Williams to a back bedroom where her husband was found deceased in his hospital bed.
Ronald Williams had suffered a gunshot wound to his right temple area, and a .22-caliber pistol was still in his right hand, which was in his lap.
Finding no pulse, Straw summoned a crime scene investigator and the Clearfield County Coroner’s office. Kimberly Williams was the only other person on-scene.
Paramedic Fred Ferguson of Moshannon Valley Emergency Medical Services arrived shortly after the first-responding trooper, Straw.
He said Ronald Williams wasn’t breathing, and didn’t have a pulse. Ferguson also found the victim cool to the touch and said his fingertips were bluing.
Based on his experience, Ferguson found this odd because he arrived within eight minutes of dispatch and Ronald Williams was reportedly making gargling sounds when the 911 call was made.
“I thought there may be a chance of resuscitation,” Ferguson testified, noting at this point, authorities believed the victim’s wound was self-inflicted.
After the home was released to Kimberly Williams and Ronald Williams’ body to the funeral home, Straw said he was contacted by a police communications operator from his station.
That call from Ronald Williams’ financial advisor, he said, changed the course of the investigation and caused troopers to question whether his death was really a suicide.
According to court documents, it was learned Ronald Williams, who had suffered a stroke six years prior, wanted to change his will and that he believed his wife wanted to kill him. He also asked for an autopsy, if anything happened to him.
When Chief Deputy Coroner Gill Stevenson arrived, he said the pistol was still in the victim’s right hand and his finger was on the trigger.
Upon an on-scene examination, he was prepared to rule that Ronald Williams’ died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
However, he said he was later contacted by a state police investigator, learned the manner of his death was in question and marked the case as pending autopsy.
Also, on Tuesday, jurors heard testimony from Trooper Lance Howell and funeral director Emil Johnson III of Heath Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Osceola Mills.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Courtroom No. 1 at the Clearfield County Courthouse, and is expected to run through June 23.